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20110904Da_EL_013=_MG_13945_Strangler_Fig_tree-Brisbane_Australia-EL+PS.jpg
Strangler Fig tree growing on eucalypt tree, Brisbane Australia.  /   Strangler Fig - Moracaea: Ficus sp. Height to 20m, canopy width to 20m, DBH 5m. Found throughout the tropics strangler figs start life from a seed lodged in a crevice in a host tree, often dropped by birds, and the seedling grows as an epiphyte. As it ages aerial roots descend to the ground and numerous clinging trunks/branches twine around the host tree. These finally amalgamate to form a complete sheath around the host tree causing its death. The host tissues eventually rot away, leaving a free-standing fig tree with a hollow central tunnel.  The fruit is a hollow sphere with the tiny flowers facing in. It is a favoured source of food for many animal species, and often is parasitised by minute wasps which enter through a small opening on the end away from the stalk. These lay their eggs inside the flowers and serve as the primary mechanism for cross-pollination of the flowers.   Collectively strangler figs are known as 'Banyans', though Ficus benghalensis, the National Tree of India, uses this as its Common Name.  //Dr Eric Lindgren//